Sustainability Impact Stories
PRODUCING THE MOST SUSTAINABLE ONION IN THE WORLD
Olam Spices’ dried onion program has been in operation since 1943. Our agricultural team has unparalleled expertise in the industry, boasting a combined 470 years of experience overseeing all aspects of seed breeding, planting, cultivation and harvest.
The team has developed proprietary seed to produce onions with more dry matter to boost yield and reduce the amount of land, water, fertilizer and pesticides needed per acre. We have also developed our own custom planting and harvesting equipment, which has significantly reduced our carbon footprint. This combination of superior seed, expertise and reduced inputs provides our farmers with a high yielding and virtually risk-free crop.
The sustainability impacts of our efficient onion extend beyond the farmgate. Both shipping and processing are more efficient, reducing our environmental footprint. Our onions are dried down in the field, requiring fewer trucks for transportation and less energy and water for processing.
Over the past 10 years we have seen an estimated reduction of:
NO TEARS FOR ONION FARMERS AS YIELDS INCREASE BY 20%
Olam Spices is working with a group of large-scale farmers in Egypt to reduce the environmental footprint and increase productivity of the onion crop through improved farming practices.
The farmers have received training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), covering everything from crop rotation and correct land preparation, to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and irrigation. They are then issued with an individual ‘Grower’s Guide’ to reference as they put their learnings into practice.
Through Olam’s sustainable sourcing programme, AtSource, customers can track the environmental and social impact of their onion products - from fertiliser use, water and carbon footprint, to labour practices and financial support - from the field to their door.
CALIFORNIA FARMERS: A CLOVE ABOVE THE REST
Olam believes that California farming is world-class. We have long-standing relationships with farms that have invested heavily in ag-tech start-ups and new technologies to shape the future of the industry and partner with leading environmental organizations* to incorporate regenerative practices on farm.
Impacts in 2019, from 4 of our 28 partner farms include:
- Biodiversity: 1,544 acres of managed wetlands and 284 acres of native habitat, including 18 acres of milkweed grown providing habitat for the endangered monarch butterfly
- Soil Health: 2,310 acres of cover crops
- Renewable Energy: 6 megawatts of solar
- Water Stewardship: The ability to recharge over 1,000 acre-feet of floodwater per day and an average of 80% drip irrigation used across all crops resulting in 15-30% water savings
* Including but not limited to: World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Xerces, Audubon Society, US Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
CLEAN PEPPER PROJECT REDUCES INPUTS AND LABOR COSTS
In the Chu Puh district of Gia Lai province of Vietnam, Olam Spices has established the Olam Clean Pepper Project. To date, 275 farmers have been onboarded with plans to expand to 1,000 farmers in 2020.
This project provides comprehensive training including Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to enhance farmer livelihoods, reduce environmental impacts and improve the quality of black pepper.
SUSTAINABLY SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS
Olam Spices is using drone technology in our paprika supply chain to support the sustainable cultivation of chilli peppers by improving input efficiency and yields. For the past three years, Olam has flown drones at 400 ft above our U.S. chilli fields to capture aerial photos of the plants at multiple times throughout the growing season. This technology has proven to be a powerful tool in comparing temporal changes and has enabled our partner farmers to identify problems in the field to find solutions faster. Some specific examples include:
- Early identification of diseases such as bacterial leaf spot and phytophthora to ensure pesticides are applied only in areas where it is needed most and during the most effective time window
- Proactively identifying irrigation leaks and water stress, ensuring plant health
- Avoiding damage to the crop by offering farmers and crop managers another way to oversee the operation, without walking through fields
- By leveraging drone technology and our internal agricultural expertise, Olam helps our partner farms reduce inputs and improve yields - ultimately saving growers time and money.
OLAM SPICES TAKES REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE TO INDIA
In India, Olam Spices has trained nearly 1,000 smallholder farmers on a wide array of soil health practices to promote regenerative agriculture, resulting in high-quality red chilli that is free of pesticide residue, aflatoxin and meets all global food safety standards.
Some key regenerative practices and highlights of the training include:
- Conserving Inputs: After collecting 408 soil samples, we conducted farmer training on nutrient management based on the results
- Cover Crops: 138 farmers applied maize and jowar as a border crop and marigold as a trap crop on more than 1,000 acres
- Compost: 200 farmers applied organic manure on more than 1,000 acres
- Crop Residue: 12 farmers incorporated crop residue into the soil on more than 45 acres
IMPROVING FARMER LIVELIHOODS, COMMUNITY HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Olam Spices is working with 1,200 smallholder farmers including 100 turmeric and more than 1,020 cumin growers in India. We have conducted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) trainings including land preparation, use of certified seed, pest and disease control, weed management and post-harvest training that has resulted in reduced inputs and minimum residue standards compliance.
In addition, Olam has undertaken several community needs assessments to identify opportunities to improve the overall health and well-being of our farmers and their families.
Some key highlights include:
- More than 50 turmeric farmers attended two child labor awareness training sessions organized in partnership with Global March
Conducted gender equity training for 25 female employees
Identified the need to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to farmers